13 January 2024

Emmanuel Tarpin, jeweler of light and shade

The young French jeweler Emmanuel Tarpin has created a set of 7 jewels on the theme of the orchid. The flamboyance and strangeness of this flower are perfectly enhanced by a subtle treatment of light and shadow.

By Sandrine Merle.



Last December, Emmanuel Tarpin presented a set of 7 orchids to be worn as brooches or earrings at the Lévy Gorvy Dayan Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art in New York. “They were exhibited among works by Pierre Soulages, which allowed me to start a conversation around the intensity of light,” explains the barely 30-year-old jeweler.


Variations on the orchid

Among the thousands of orchid species in existence, Emmanuel Tarpin has chosen the “Sabot de Vénus”, the butterfly-like “Psychopsis Tiger” with its trio of graceful antennae, the butterfly-like “Phalaenopsis”, the “Cattleya”, and the “Brassia Spider” with its long, spider-like petals. He has restored the vivacity of the petals’ colors. White is associated with barley-sugar pink or soft green, from red to yellow. He also conjured up an intense black.  “The depth of color would have been impossible to achieve with simple rhodium plating,” explains Emmanuel Tarpin, who worked at the workbench for four years after graduating from HEAD. “The best school for engaging in dialogue with craftsmen and experimentation”. For this collection, he carried out all the research with two Parisian entities capable of producing waxes by hand.


Magnificent chiaroscuro

For a natural look, everything is matte, with no mirror polish or dazzling pavé of precious stones. With the exception of the solitaire placed at the heart of each orchid: “Diamond, the stone with the highest refractive index, was a natural choice for this matte/glossy juxtaposition,” explains Emmanuel Tarpin. As a fan of charming stones and elongated shapes, he chose specimens cut in navette, marquise and pear shapes. Light bursts forth from the center of the orchid, reflecting off the slightest fold, the slightest curl of the sumptuous petals. Magnificent chiaroscuro effects, particularly on the Cattleya in silver with a black patina. And then in a softer version, the light also vibrates and glides over the velvety powdered ceramics and lacquer, which he is using for the first time in his work. He is a true sculptor.


Emmanuel Tarpin has not sought to echo the magnificent orchids of Tiffany & Co. or those of René Lalique, created over a century ago. That said, his jewels, all of which have been sold, are certainly worthy of the comparison.


Related article:

GemGenève: a springboard for young designers – The French Jewelry Post

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